U.S. Mayor Article

Tulsa Mayor LaFortune Helps Propel Successful Ballot
"Vision 2025" Will Boost Regional Economy in Tulsa, Tulsa County

November 3, 2003


To help stimulate the local economy, Tulsa Mayor Bill La Fortune was heavily involved in a victorious city-county partnership to launch a wide range of economic development efforts. While still a candidate for office, LaFortune first described the idea of the Vision Summit. "A regional vision is critical and will provide a united front... a unified strategic plan for Tulsa and the entire region," he told the Tulsa World. He promised he would bring together such a meeting, if elected. On April 1, 2002, he was sworn into office and, as promised, the summit convened on LaFortune's 100th day in office.

A "Vision 2025" ballot initiative triggered widespread voter support on September 9, 2003 for four separate and independent propositions, which will now be funded by an increase in the sales tax of percent that will now fund 34 projects, incentives and improvements in Tulsa and other Tulsa County Communities. The amount of funds ($885 million) goes into effect January 1, 2004, climaxing a process, which involved massive citizen partnership and input. Each of the four separate ballot propositions enjoyed at least 60 percent support.

The four-part ballot includes:

  • $350 million in incentives to lure a Boeing assembly plant to Tulsa;
  • $22.3 million to fund capital improvements for American Airlines' Tulsa maintenance facility;
  • $350.3 million for education, health care and event facilities; and
  • $157.4 million for capital improvement and community enrichment projects, including the Sand Springs redevelopment plan.

Local newspapers praised the Vision 2025 effort which will not only benefit Tulsa, but also any number of projects scheduled for every community in Tulsa County.

Tulsa will receive the bulk of the $30-million-appointment (part of proposition 4 with a total of $157.4 for various county projects with $30 million set aside for community infrastructure.) The funds are to be fairly allocated on a per-capita basis.

Exactly two weeks after the vote, LaFortune saw the groundbreaking ceremony for a new home for the Tulsa Air and Space museum. LaFortune said supporters of the facility had been "tenacious" in backing the facility, which he said, makes sense for the region and is also an educational tool for our kids and grandkids.

Supporters contended that a similar effort in Oklahoma City (also a sales tax initiative) bought life and economic development to that city's downtown area.

"Vision 2025 is about economic development for the region," said LaFortune. "It's about jobs. It's about the future for us, our children and our children's children."

Various Leadership Teams helped shape varying proposals — all done in open forums with heavy citizen involvement. Speakers and experts on urban — suburban America trekked to Tulsa to add their expertise to the many seminars, presentations and public gatherings.

Among these was William Hudnut, seminar resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute, but known to America's mayors as mayor of Indianapolis from 1976 to 1991. Hudnut said his stated goal was to build a "cooperative, compassionate, and competitive city."

At one summit event, Dr. Kathy LaFortune, wife of the mayor, expounded on her vision of blending arts and culture as a major ingredient for bringing the community together. A licensed psychologist and an attorney, Dr. LaFortune said that, in recent years, Tulsans continued "to raise the cultural bar" and infuse the city with cultural amenities. Noting that she has lived in the city 44 years, Dr. LaFortune said "we've always had a higher level of debate about our culture, about our art."

On September 18, LaFortune delivered his "State of the City" address, exulting in the approval of the largest economic development package in the city's history.

He noted that the passage of the stimulated investment from various foundations and other sources of private investment. His remarks included lengthy, and gracious, listings of the various individual, civic organizations, public officials and others involved in shaping the public-private partnerships now forming under the umbrella of "Vision 2025."

Tulsa's success is now being viewed by many other cities as a model for their own efforts. "As Tulsans," concluded La Fortune, "We have now seen the future and we know it will work."

Elected in 2002, LaFortune's current term of office ends in 2006. For more information please visit the following web sites:

  • http://www.tulsaworld.com/Vision2025Articles.asp
  • http://www.tulsanow.org/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=179
  • http://www.tulsanow.org/summit/index.htm

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